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TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED SERIES / CARTOONS

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Coming Soon... stuff on • Beast Machines • Robots in Disguise • Transformers: Prime

Season One

| More than Meets the Eye, Part 1 | More than Meets the Eye, Part 2 | More than Meets the Eye, Part 3 | Transport to Oblivion | Roll for it | Divide and Conquer | Fire in the Sky | S.O.S. Dinobots | Fire on the Mountain | War of the Dinobots | The Ultimate Doom, Part 1 | The Ultimate Doom, Part 2 | The Ultimate Doom, Part 3 | Countdown to Extinction | A Plague of Insecticons | The Heavy Metal War |

“More than Meets the Eye, Part 1”

US Airdate: 9-17-84
Japan Airdate: 7-6-85
Japan Title: “The Road to Earth”
Credited Writer: George Arthur Bloom
Animation: Toei Studio

Synopsis: Several million years ago, on the planet Cybertron, dwelled a race of highly advanced, sentient robots; the Transformers. The heroic Autobots, lead by Optimus Prime, had been waging a war against the evil Decepticons, lead by Megatron. The war had lasted so long that it had decimated most of Cybertron and nearly completely drained it of energy.

Optimus Prime leads a group of select Autobots on an expedition for more energy. Megatron finds out, thanks to Soundwave and Laserbeak, and heads out after them. Before leaving, he appoints Shockwave as Guardian of Cybertron, to watch over the planet in his absence. They take off, and after avoiding a meteor shower, the Decepticons board the Autobot shuttle to do battle. The ship crashes into a nearby planet and all the Transformers on board are deactivated.

Four million years later, the volcano they crashed into erupts and the Decepticons are brought back online by the ship’s computer, Teletran-1. Teletran-1 grants them the alternate modes of various Earth vehicles and equipment as a means of disguise. They quickly ditch the still deactivated Autobots, determined to plunder Earth for its energy, but a stray blast from Starscream knocks Optimus into the repair beam. Optimus and the other Autobots are brought back online, with snazzy alternate modes of their own, and immediately set out to find the Decepticons.

Hound and Cliffjumper locate Megatron at his base of operations, and Cliffjumper attempts to snipe him. He misses, and Soundwave sends Laserbeak to go mess them up. Laserbeak blasts Hound over a cliff-side before disengaging his pursuit and the other Autobots come to his aid.

Meanwhile, Megatron has decided to gather all of Earth’s energy and use it to power a new star ship with which he can conquer Cybertron. Using various elements around them (including a power plant), the Decepticons begin work on their new ship. For energy, they plunder an off-shore oil rig. The Autobots show up to try and stop the bad guys, and as a result of their battle, Megatron blows the oil rig to pieces. Employees, Sparkplug and his son, Spike Witwicky, are hurled into the water during the explosion and find themselves trapped under debris. Optimus tries to free them as the fire moves ever closer.

Notes: Though not named in this episode, the Autobot shuttle is named “The Ark” and the Decepticon star cruiser is named “The Nemesis”, as revealed many years later in Beast Wars, “The Agenda, part 2”. The name “The Ark” was taken from the Marvel comic. The Autobot headquarters on Cybertron, Iacon, appears for the first time in this episode. Iacon would appear throughout the Transformers mythos, all the way into Beast Machines. A yellow crane named “Hauler” shows up in this episode only, has no lines and is never seen in robot mode. He is a perfect match for Grapple, who appears in the second season. Hauler was given a toy via an e-Hobby Shop repaint, which claimed in its bio that he was also one of the 8 Constructicons seen building Megatron in “Five Faces of Darkness”. In the Beast Wars episode, “The Agenda, part 2”, Blackarachnia establishes that the volcano concealing the Ark erupted in the year 1984.

Errors: For the sake of not boring everyone, and for my poor fingers, I won’t note every single little animation error (coloring errors, in particular) as, especially in the later episodes, they appear every couple seconds. In the opening prologue on Cybertron, when Wheeljack is heading toward a trio of Decepticon jets, Starscream has the wrong voice actor. When Cliffjumper and Hound are spying on the Decepticons at their base, you can see Sideswipe standing next to Megatron (where Soundwave is supposed to be). Mostly in the “More than Meets the Eye” 3-parter, but elsewhere in the series, there are dozens of unnamed Decepticon jets that serve as filler soldiers. Most of them are colored purple all over, while others are confusingly colored like the three main jets. Hound refers to an Energon cube as “Some sort of cube”, implying that the Autobots don’t know what an Energon cube is, despite the fact that they are shown using cubes as fuel during the flashbacks in “War Dawn”.

Transformers featured (in rough order of appearance): Wheeljack, Bumblebee, Starscream, Skywarp, Thundercracker, Soundwave, Laserbeak, Optimus Prime, Trailbreaker, Prowl, Jazz, Megatron, Shockwave, Ratchet, Bluestreak, Sideswipe, Ironhide, Reflector, Mirage, Rumble, Hound, Cliffjumper, “Hauler”, Ravage, Sunstreaker, Huffer, Brawn, Gears. All first appearances, obviously.

Notable Others: Teletran-1, Sparkplug Witwicky, Spike Witwicky. All first appearances.

Review: A good way to get things going. The opening narration accompanied by the surreal, other-worldly music, sets the story up nicely and gives an excellent feel for the alien nature of Cybertron and its inhabitants. Most of the characters that appear in the episode aren’t even really introduced and just appear in the background. The ones that are introduced don’t exactly have much depth yet, outside of explaining their personality to us. Starscream basically tells Megatron at the very beginning of the episode “One of these days I’m going to kill you and take your place”, to which Megatron replies “Never!” and then loses focus and talks to Soundwave. Still, this episode basically set up everything we need to know about the Transformers and their Universe in 30 minutes, and did a remarkable job. Toei’s animation isn’t nearly as error-ridden as it’s gonna be in a few episodes, and thus is rather impressive. Voice director, Wally Burr, gets the most out of the cast (he came from a military background and was notorious for having extremely exacting standards) and they deliver their lines with a fine amount of drama and personality. Not the best episode of the series, but a magnificent start.

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“More than Meets the Eye, Part 2”

US Airdate: 9-18-84
Japan Airdate: 7-13-85
Japan Title: “Secret of the Ruby Crystals”
Credited Writer: George Arthur Bloom
Animation: Toei Studio

Synopsis: The Autobots rescue Sparkplug and Spike from the sinking oil rig. Sparkplug convinces Optimus to let him and his son tag along back to their base so they can teach them a thing or two about Earth. Soundwave and Ravage infiltrate the Autobot base to steal info on Earth’s various energy resources. Spike catches them in the act and sounds the alarm. Soundwave makes a break for it and manages to escape, though Ravage is captured.

Soundwave returns to Megatron and relays info about hydro-electric energy. The Decepticons head to Sherman Dam with the intent of making a tidal wave to increase the dam’s energy output. Rumble uses his pile-driver arms to cause said tidal wave, and the Autobots show up to put a stop to them. Hound engages Rumble in battle underwater, while Ironhide and Bumblebee get to work stopping the tidal wave from destroying a town. The rest of the Autobots get busy battling the Decepticons.

Optimus and Megatron duel on top of the crumbling dam, using their energy axe and energy mace. Prime loses and the Decepticons escape with their stolen energy. Back at the Decepticon base, Starscream has wasted energy testing to see if the cubes work. Megatron is not amused, and they plan to loot the ruby crystal mines in Burma for energy to replace what Starscream wasted. Spike, Sparkplug and Trailbreaker overhear their plans using spy equipment and relay their findings back to Optimus.

The Autobots follow the Decepticons to the mines in Burma. Sparkplug and Bumblebee sneak inside the mines and set an explosive to hopefully bury the Decepticons forever. They’re caught by Thundercracker and Skywarp who beat the stuffing out of them. Optimus comes to their aid and sends Roller in after them. However, no sooner does he get to the entrance and dispatches Roller, the explosive goes off and Optimus is blown from the side of the cliff.

Notes: Soundwave shrinks down to the size of a Walkman instead of his usual stereo-size. Sherman Dam has appeared elsewhere in Transformers media, including the Marvel UK comic and the Robots in Disguise cartoon. Peter Cullen’s John Wayne-impression for Optimus Prime really shines through in this episode, particularly when he says “Stick it in neutral, Megatron!” Also, though he talks like R2-D2, Optimus’ concern for Roller would appear to imply that he is sentient.

Errors: Why would the Autobots bring Spike into battle against the Decepticons at Sherman Dam? They just met the kid, and his function was supposed to be as a tour-guide for Earth. They also drag Sparkplug into battle at the ruby crystal mines (they do this a lot throughout the series). Even more puzzling, Sparkplug, an oil-rig worker, has apparently dug for crystals…in Burma? For those without a map, Burma is located between China and India. The Autobots also seem to drive there from the Western coast of the United States without much trouble (they do this a lot throughout the series). Cliffjumper compliments Mirage on his fighting skills at the dam, though later he sparks an irrational hatred of the poor guy in “The Traitor”. Starscream uses a Dennis the Menace-style slingshot in battle for no readily apparent reason.

Transformers featured (in rough order of appearance): Huffer, Brawn, Trailbreaker, Wheeljack, Jazz, Soundwave, Ratchet, Hound, Mirage, Ravage, Bumblebee, Sideswipe, Gears, Prowl, Megatron, Starscream, Thundercracker, Skywarp, Reflector, Rumble, Ironhide, Cliffjumper, Sunstreaker, Windcharger (first appearance), Bluestreak, Roller (first appearance).

Notable Others: Sparkplug, Spike, Teletran-1.

Review: Pretty blatantly filler between the important events of Parts 1 and 3. The only reason the Decepticons even attack the ruby crystal mines in Burma is because Starscream stupidly wastes a large portion of their Energon supply “testing” it. The battle between Optimus and Megatron atop Sherman Dam remains one of the most memorable fight scenes between the two characters, at least as far as the cartoon goes, and is typically the part of the “More than Meets the Eye” mini that people remember best. So I suppose this installment wasn’t total filler. Also interesting is that Windcharger makes his series debut in this episode as an unnamed background character, while Roller gets a pretty grand entrance. Heck, Optimus seems more concerned about Roller’s welfare after the explosion than Sparkplug and Bumblebee’s. Overall, this episode is the weakest link in “More than Meets the Eye” but has a few notable sequences.

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“More than Meets the Eye, Part 3”

US Airdate: 9-19-84
Japan Airdate: 7-20-85
Japan Title: “Escape from Earth!”
Credited Writer: George Arthur Bloom
Animation: Toei Studio

Synopsis: Optimus and Roller survive the explosion in the crystal mines and quickly get to work digging out Sparkplug and Bumblebee. The two are rescued, but almost immediately afterward, the Decepticons blast their way out of the mine and depart with all the stolen energy.

At the Ark, Hound concocts a plan to trick the Decepticons by creating a holographic rocket base for them to attack. They leak the “info” to the captured Ravage and allow him an easy escape. Ravage returns to the Decepticon base with the news and Megatron begins his scheming.

Hound creates his holographic rocket base and all the Autobots disguise themselves in lab coats. The Decepticons show up to battle, but are soon revealed to be nothing more than dummies made out of spare parts. Megatron reveals that he knew of their ruse, and while the Autobots were battling his dummies, the real Decepticons have been raiding an actual rocket base for fuel.

Megatron returns to the Decepticon base and prepares to take off, when the Autobots arrive to stop him. They do battle, but the Autobots ultimately lose and the Decepticons take off. Optimus attempts to follow them with Sideswipe’s rocket-pack, but is shot down before he can get too close. Inside the ship, Starscream makes his latest bid for Decepticon domination, but is interrupted by a stow-away Mirage. Mirage shoots the navigation systems and flight controls and sends the ship hurtling back down to Earth. Mirage escapes just as the ship and its cargo of Decepticons crashes into the ocean.

In his journal, Spike remarks that the governments of the world, out of gratitude, have donated to the Autobots the energy they need to get back to Cybertron and win the war. Spike is interrupted by Optimus, who informs him that they’re about to take off for Cybertron. Meanwhile, Megatron rises from the wrecked Decepticon base at the bottom of the ocean, alive and functional.

Notes: Megatron learns the location of the real rocket base and Ravage is taken prisoner by the Autobots in “More than Meets the Eye Part II”. Ravage talks for the first and only time from within Soundwave’s chest in this episode. He talked quite frequently in the Marvel comic and on rare occasions in the Japanese dub. Optimus uses the laser cannon mounted within his trailer for the first time. He rarely ever uses it again for the rest of the series. This episode also marks the last time Spike is shown to keep a journal. A good thing, too, as the whole journal-device reminded me too much of Nickelodeon’s Doug.

Errors: Optimus assumes that an explosion that couldn’t even manage to kill Roller, Bumblebee and Sparkplug somehow managed to “finish” the Decepticons? In the Japanese dub, Thundercracker requests permission to teleport from Megatron instead of Skywarp. When Optimus admits how pleased he is that Ravage has escaped, Hound and Mirage gasp in utter-shock. Strange, considering they came up with the friggin’ plan in the first place. Optimus blasts Megatron’s fusion cannon off his arm, but while they’re wrestling, his cannon is somehow on his arm once again

Transformers featured (in rough order of appearance): Optimus Prime, Ironhide, Jazz, Bluestreak, Ratchet, Cliffjumper, Mirage, Prowl, Hound, Wheeljack, Gears, Huffer, Bumblebee, Megatron, Thundercracker, Soundwave, Reflector, Starscream, Skywarp, Sunstreaker, Ravage, Brawn, Windcharger, Sideswipe, Trailbreaker, Rumble, Laserbeak.

Notable Others: Sparkplug, Spike

Review: Not a whole lot of story in this 3-parter, if you think about it. Basically, “More than Meets the Eye” boils down to “Megatron plunders Earth for energy and the Autobots stop him”. Regardless, the whole mini serves as an introduction to the characters, their history and the Universe they live in. In that respect, the opening 3-parter did an exceptional job. Mirage, of all characters, saving the day at the end comes as a real surprise. They could’ve given him a little more “I wanna go home soooo bad” dialogue to maybe set up his stowing away on the Decepticon ship, but despite that, it was a good ending. Toei’s animation also seems to improve with each installment in the three-parter (before self-destructing shortly into the regular series) so this episode is quite pretty to look at. Overall, this doesn’t offer anything particularly clever in the story-department other than the basic premise of the Transformers. And, considering this is supposed to be the first thing anybody ever saw of the series, I’d say that’s enough.

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“Transport to Oblivion”

US Airdate: 10-6-84
Japan Airdate: 7-27-85
Japan Title: “Operation: Spacebridge!”
Animation: Toei Studio

Synopsis: The Autobots are content to believe that the Decepticons were killed when their starship crashed into the ocean, however, that’s not actually the case. The Decepticons have built the remains of their ship into an underwater headquarters. Back on Cybertron, Shockwave has finally run low on Energon. He contacts Megatron and together they plot to build a “spacebridge” to transport Megatron’s plundered Energon back to Cybertron.

Megatron attacks a power plant, causing a city-wide blackout, and the Autobots mobilize to deal with him. After a skirmish, the Decepticons escape with their energy and wound Ironhide. The Autobots repair themselves and then send Spike and Bumblebee out to track down Megatron. The Decepticons have constructed their spacebridge in a dried-up riverbed but are having trouble getting it to work. Apparently, without manual guidance, the Energon cubes can’t get from Earth to Cybertron effectively. Megatron spots Spike and Bumblebee and the Decepticons attack. Spike is taken prisoner. Megatron becomes determined to use Spike as a guinea pig for the next spacebridge delivery. Bumblebee attempts to escape, but is eventually caught and his memory chips hacked into.

Bumblebee returns to Autobot headquarters with faulty news that Spike is being held prisoner in a cave. The Autobots go to rescue their friend but are ambushed in the cave by the Decepticons. The Decepticons make short work of the Autobots and leave them buried inside the cavern. Back at the spacebridge, Megatron prepares Spike for his voyage. Before he can send him on his way, the Autobots escape from the cave and show up in the nick of time.

They free Spike and stop the Energon cargo from making it into the spacebridge. Megatron attempts to toss the Energon cubes into the bridge by hand but is instead shot by Optimus and knocked into the teleportation spiral. Megatron gets blasted off into oblivion and the Autobots head home. Starscream, assuming Megatron’s death, takes command of the Decepticons. However, back on Cybertron, Megatron has managed to make it through the spacebridge successfully.

Notes: The Decepticon starship crashed into the ocean at the end of “More than Meets the Eye part 3”. Apparently, the Ark and the volcano it crashed into are located next to the shore. Though not mentioned in the show, in the comics the Ark had crash-landed in Oregon, which would make sense as the Ark’s location in the cartoon, as well. The spacebridge, introduced in this episode, would be a mainstay of the series up until its destruction in Headmasters. The physics behind the spacebridge would change after this episode, making it more exact and simpler to travel by.

Production Notes: Save for the opening mini series, “More than Meets the Eye”, all of the season 1 episodes of the Transformers were credited to the entire writing cast; Douglas Booth, Donald F. Glut, Alfred A. Pegal, Larry Strass, Earl Kress, Leo D. Paur, Reed Robbins and Peter Salas.

Errors: The plotline from the end of “More than Meets the Eye Part 3”, in which the Autobots use energy donated by the world’s governments to build a ship back to Cybertron, has been completely ignored. I suppose one could assume that…their ship didn’t work? The scary rock Cliffjumper mistakes for a Decepticon and shoots actually looks more like Prowl or Bluestreak. Cliffjumper is normally very unbalanced, but that’s going a little nuts. So Shockwave waits 4 million years to try and contact Megatron? Additionally, I’m surprised the planet’s energy-shortage managed to last that long. Why are half the Autobots “out on patrol” if they think the Decepticons are all dead? In one scene, Megatron talks in Shockwave’s voice; “Test-run number two, aborted.”

Transformers featured (in rough order of appearance): Optimus Prime, Cliffjumper, Ironhide, Megatron, Shockwave, Soundwave, Laserbeak, Skywarp, Starscream, Jazz, Ratchet, Prowl, Gears, Bumblebee, Reflector, Brawn, Sideswipe, Sunstreaker, Trailbreaker.

Notable Others: Spike, Teletran-1, Sparkplug.

Review: This wouldn’t be such a bad episode if it wasn’t for all the leaps in logic. Shockwave waiting 4 million years to contact Megatron, the spacebridge not working until Megatron gets sucked into it, Cliffjumper mistaking a rock shaped like Prowl for a Decepticon, etc. The spacebridge-itself is an interesting concept given some exceptional visual-flare from the animators at Toei. The animation in this episode, for the most part, is also quite good; especially the scene in which Bumblebee escapes from the Decepticons after ditching Spike. However, the story isn’t particularly clever or exciting. Well, it’s about as exciting as watching an episode where Megatron tries to send a postcard to Hawaii but has it get lost in the mail 3 times. That’s essentially all the plot there is in this one.

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“Roll for it”

US Airdate: 10-13-84
Japan Airdate: 8-3-85
Japan Title: “The Return of Megatron”
Animation: Toei Studio

Synopsis: Starscream, now commanding the Decepticons, orders Thundercracker and Soundwave to attack a hydroelectric dam for energy. The Autobots show up and completely trash them before they can escape with their Energon. The trio bails out, though damaged, and receives a message from Megatron. Megatron announces his survival from the spacebridge fiasco and seizes control back from Starscream. He orders them to attack a top-secret laboratory on Earth, but Starscream and Friends need to repair themselves first.

Bumblebee escorts Spike and his pal, Chip Chase, to the aforementioned laboratory. However, on their way in, Reflector steals the security access code and reports back to Megatron. Inside the lab, Chip is greeted by his employer, Dr. Alcazar. As it turns out, Chip is a boy-genius helping the doctor to create anti-matter. Dr. Alcazar gives Chip a disk to take home so he can work with the lab database via the internet. As they leave, they are attacked by Laserbeak but manage to escape.

Meanwhile, Prowl and Bluestreak have tracked Starscream and his gang to a jet hanger where they were using parts to repair themselves. Prowl is damaged in battle and has to go online and search for someone to command him via remote. Chip answers the call and successfully commands Prowl to a victory. Starscream and the others retreat, while Megatron and the other Decepticons invade Dr. Alcazar’s lab. Dr. Alcazar erases the formula from the hard drive before the bad guys can get to it, but Megatron traces a signal back to Chip’s house. Soundwave goes to retrieve the info, but before Ravage can get it, Chip destroys the diskette. Soundwave kidnaps Chip and takes him back to the lab.

Soundwave uses his mind-reading skills to extract the anti-matter formula from Chip’s brain. Mirage, Hound and Bumblebee manage to infiltrate the lab and rescue Chip. The Autobots move in to attack but are quickly defeated by Megatron’s newly-created anti-matter.

The Autobots return to base for repairs, and shortly after that, Megatron, powered by anti-matter, attacks. Megatron transforms to gun-mode and blows all the Autobots away. Wheeljack devises a computer-override device with Chip’s help, and along with Spike, the pair of humans attach it to Skywarp (who is holding Megatron). Skywarp begins shooting at his fellow Decepticons before Megatron transforms back to robot mode. Unfortunately for him, the anti-matter in his chest reaches ignition temperature and he has to remove it. The Decepticons, wounded, retreat back to headquarters as the Autobots celebrate another victory.

Notes: Megatron went missing and was presumed dead at the end of “Transport to Oblivion”. Shockwave, acting only slightly truer to character, asks Megatron to have a “safe” journey back to Earth. Though notorious for it in the comics, Shockwave never again shows any dissatisfaction toward Megatron’s leadership in the cartoon. Soundwave uses his mind-reading skills for the first time in this episode. This power was used sparingly in the cartoon but would show up occasionally in the Marvel comic. The scene in which the guard at the laboratory greets Spike, Chip and Bumblebee is edited out of the Japanese version of the episode for time. Chip’s relationship with Prowl, though never touched again in the cartoon, would become a major plot-point in the Binaltech storyline, written by Hirofumi Ichikawa and released exclusively in Japan.

Errors: After blasting Starscream, Thundercracker and Soundwave away at the hydro-electric dam, Bluestreak and Prowl continuously switch places. The super-nerdy Chip shows an incredible amount of upper-body strength, shredding a diskette like it was a tissue. Soundwave is missing his voice-over effects when screaming “Excellent, Ravage!” and thus sounds exactly like Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget. Also, Chip addresses Ravage by name. Have they met before? In one sequence, Megatron hurls a cube of anti-matter causing the laboratory to explode in a gigantic mushroom cloud. After a commercial break, the lab is looking pretty good, save for some smoke billowing out of the windows. Ratchet accompanies the Autobots to the lab, but is then back at headquarters to greet them. Starscream refers to Megatron in gun-mode as “the anti-matter gun”. Was he not aware that was Megatron he was holding? Spikes drills a hole in Skywarp’s left leg, but Chip places the override device on the right leg.

Transformers featured (in rough order of appearance): Starscream, Thundercracker, Soundwave, Optimus Prime, Bluestreak, Brawn, Cliffjumper, Prowl, Megatron, Shockwave, Rumble, Laserbeak, Bumblebee, Reflector, Ravage, Ironhide, Sunstreaker, Ratchet, Hound, Wheeljack, Mirage, Trailbreaker, Jazz, Skywarp, Sideswipe.

Notable Others: Spike, Chip Chase (first appearance), Dr. Alcazar (first and only appearance), Sparkplug, Teletran-1.

Review: Only marginally better than the last episode, if only because Megatron has a diabolical plot this time and isn’t just trying to mail a care-package back home. Does anybody else find it a little insensitive/funny that they’d name an episode introducing a kid in a wheelchair “ROLL for it”? On top of that, at the end of the episode, Bumblebee compliments Chip because he “rolled for broke”. Real smooth. Megatron’s evil scheme wasn’t particularly impressive, and the way he was defeated was so out of the blue it’s almost like an accident (his anti-matter over heats?). Not a great episode, but watchable at least. It maintains some continuity with the previous episode, at any rate.

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“Divide and Conquer”

US Airdate: 10-20-84
Japan Airdate: 8-10-85
Japan Title: “S.O.S! Cybertrons”
Animation: Toei Studio

Synopsis: At a munitions plant manufacturing weapons to counter the Decepticons, Chip Chase has been employed to speed up productivity. Starscream, Skywarp and Thundercracker attack the plant to steal its energy, but Optimus shows up to counter the threat. He defeats the Decepticons, but is seriously injured while saving Chip from an explosion.

Optimus heads back to Autobot headquarters for repairs, while Megatron dispatches Laserbeak to sneak into their base and finish Prime off. While Optimus lay on the operating table, Laserbeak attacks and fries Prime’s torso circuits. Laserbeak escapes and the Autobots are left uncertain what to do. Optimus Prime’s cosmotron, an essential piece of circuitry, has been destroyed. The only other one is in Wheeljack’s workshop on Cybertron, but to make matters worse, the Decepticons have sealed it up with a high-tech lock.

A troop of Autobots, along with computer-wizard Chip Chase, head to Cybertron via the Decepticon spacebridge to get the cosmotron. After securing the device, a group of Decepticon jets immobilizes them with an acid-rainstorm. Chip inspires the Autobots to fight back and they escape to the spacebridge. Back on earth, Megatron and his forces attack the Autobot base and do a number on the leaderless good guys. As they stand victorious, Chip and Bumblebee arrive with the cosmotron. A repaired Optimus Prime emerges from the base and cleans Megatron’s clock. Starscream is amused over Megatron’s defeat, questions his leadership and the Decepticons retreat.

Notes: Wheeljack’s workshop on Cybertron makes its debut in this episode. Megatron wonders if Prime’s “laser-core” has been extinguished. The laser-core is an early concept of the “spark”, introduced in Beast Wars, which is the soul of a Transformer. This is a good episode to showcase the special powers of the various Transformers. Skywarp teleports, Reflector uses his Flash Beam attack, Rumble lets loose his pile-driver arms, Ironhide uses his liquid nitrogen gun for the first time, Bluestreak uses his electro-bolts and Trailbreaker uses his force-field. The scene in which Shockwave opens fire on the Autobots when they first arrive on Cybertron was edited out of the Japanese version for time. Cybertron appears to have an atmosphere suitable for human beings.

Errors: Skywarp is colored as Starscream when he teleports. To make matters worse, in the Japanese dub, he’s voiced as Starscream as well. Laserbeak infiltrates the Autobot headquarters by transforming to cassette mode and landing on Brawn’s shoulder. Oh c’mon! The Reflector unit Starscream sends through the space bridge has a completely different voice and appears to have a will of its own, despite the extra Reflector units typically being shown as drones. Shockwave is shown on earth among the disabled Autobots after their battle with the Decepticons.

Transformers featured (in rough order of appearance): Starscream, Thundercracker, Skywarp, Soundwave, Ratchet, Wheeljack, Bluestreak, Trailbreaker, Bumblebee, Ironhide, Optimus Prime, Megatron, Reflector, Laserbeak, Gears, Brawn, Windcharger, Huffer, Prowl, Jazz, Sideswipe, Shockwave, Rumble, Sunstreaker, Mirage, Hound, Cliffjumper, Ravage.

Notable Others: Chip Chase, Sparkplug, Spike, Teletran-1.

Review: Possibly the first episode in the series to have a real plot that extends past “Megatron wants energy and the Autobots don’t like it”. While we all knew Optimus would survive, it was still a nice bit of drama added to the plot. The Autobots being completely decimated without Optimus to back them up, however, is a little irking. Chip’s pep talk, “No one’s ever really disabled as long as he has courage”, is about as subtle as a jack-hammer. Never-the-less, a decent episode. We get to see Shockwave in action for the first time and the bit where all the Transformers show off their special powers feels like a brawl between super heroes and super villains. It’s especially entertaining, as many of the Transformers stop using their special powers on a regular basis after the first season.

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“Fire in the Sky”

US Airdate: 12-8-84
Japan Airdate: 9-26-86
Japan Title: “The Resurrection of Skyfire!”
Animation: Toei Studio

Synopsis: Autobot headquarters is being buried by a freak snowstorm, which is particularly strange, as they’re situated in a desert. As it turns out, the Decepticons are siphoning heat-energy from the Earth’s core using a series of green crystals which extend to that depth. The resulting loss of heat-energy is causing a new global ice age. The Autobots set out to the North Pole to stop them.

While digging for more crystal shafts, Rumble and Skywarp happen upon a huge robot buried in the ice. Starscream recognizes him as his old pal and former co-worker, Skyfire. Back on Cybertron, before the Autobots had their last falling-out with the Decepticons, Starscream and Skyfire were scientists exploring uncharted planets. While exploring prehistoric Earth, Skyfire was caught in a freak wind and crash-landed in the North Pole. Despite Starscream’s best efforts, he could not recover Skyfire and had to leave him buried in the ice for millions of years. Grateful for his rescue, Skyfire agrees to join the Decepticons and become a warrior, though it goes against everything he believes in.

The Autobots show up but are soon attacked by Skyfire. Skyfire is distracted by Spike and Sparkplug, who are set adrift into the freezing sea, and rescues them. He takes them back to Megatron, assuming they will be kept safe, but instead finds they are to be used as hostages. The Autobots split up (quite by accident), with Optimus, Bumblebee and Cliffjumper searching for Spike and Sparkplug, while Ratchet, Ironhide, Hound and Gears learn Megatron’s plan and are quickly taken prisoner.

Starscream asks Skyfire to prove his loyalty by executing the captured Autobots, but he refuses. Starscream shoots his former pal and, seemingly, blows the Autobots to pieces. As it turns out, it was one of Hounds holograms. The Autobots repair the confused Skyfire as Optimus and the others rescue Spike and Sparkplug. The Autobots and Decepticons do battle, but the Decepticons can’t stand up to the might of Skyfire. After defeating the other Decepticons, Skyfire takes to the air and knocks-down Starscream, though the dog-fight sends him spinning out of control. In a last ditch effort to save the day, Skyfire opens fire on the crystal caverns as he crashes into them, burying the crystals along with himself. The Autobots lament the loss of their new friend and vow he will always be remembered.

Notes: Before becoming a soldier, Starscream was once a scientist and explorer. In Japan, seasons 1 and 2 were lumped together as “Super Robot Life Transformer”. However, the episodes were aired completely out of order. This episode, in particular, was shown toward the end of the series.

Errors: Were Starscream and Skyfire ever really friends? Starscream sure seems to shoot his old comrade quite a bit. I don’t quite understand how green crystals control the temperature of the Earth’s core. The Autobots drive to the North Pole in a matter of minutes. When Skyfire makes his dramatic switch to the Autobots, he rips off his Decepticon symbol like it was a sticker. Toy-accuracy?

Transformers featured (in rough order of appearance): Jazz, Bumblebee, Hound, Cliffjumper, Ratchet, Optimus Prime, Gears, Skywarp, Reflector, Starscream, Megatron, Rumble, Ironhide, Skyfire (first appearance), Soundwave, Thundercracker, Ravage, Laserbeak.

Notable Others: Spike, Teletran-1, Sparkplug.

Review: The most potentially interesting part of the plot, Starscream’s relationship with Skyfire, gets overshadowed by Megatron’s villainous scheme to siphon energy from the Earth’s core using crazy green crystals. Starscream’s initial concern for Skyfire’s welfare is a nice touch, as is Skyfire’s first conversation with Starscream; asking him if he’s happier as a warrior than a scientist. Unfortunately, it all falls apart after that, with Starscream shooting his good buddy and screaming “Traitor!” every five seconds. It makes you hard to believe they were ever friends at all. In one of the funnier moments, Reflector and his units form a human pyramid and assume that will somehow help them to defeat Skyfire. The crystal-spear duel between Optimus and Megatron is well choreographed, particularly Megatron’s rotating torso. Regardless, as a character-introduction, Skyfire is dull as dishwater and his connection to Starscream feels like a serious waste of potential.

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“S.O.S. Dinobots”

US Airdate: 10-27-84
Japan Airdate: 8-17-85
Japan Title: “Birth of the Dinobots”
Animation: Toei Studio

Synopsis: Strange tremors startle the Autobots at their headquarters. Ironhide suspects it’s the work of Rumble, but upon further investigation discovers a cave full of dinosaur fossils. Spike explains to the Autobots what dinosaurs were and gives Wheeljack an idea. After visiting a museum, the Autobots get busy constructing robot dinosaurs of their own, to act as powerful new troops. Elsewhere, at the Great Falls, Soundwave and Reflector deduce that the hydro-electric energy produced by the falls would act as a perpetual energy source for the Decepticons. After relaying the info to Megatron, the Decepticons plot to attack the falls.

Back at Autobot base, Wheeljack unveils the Dinobots; Grimlock, Slag and Sludge. Unfortunately, he made the Dinobots too much like real dinosaurs, as they soon go murderously insane and start tearing up the base and the other Autobots. After blowing Teletran-1 to smithereens and wounding several Autobots, Wheeljack manages to shut them down. Despite Wheeljack’s pleas, Optimus decrees that the Dinobots are too dangerous and has them sealed-up inside the cave with all the other dinosaur fossils.

At the Great Falls, the Decepticons have taken over and begun producing Energon cubes. The human workers try to contact the Autobots, but their signal cannot get through thanks to the offline Teletran-1. Spike and Hound are out on patrol when they discover the Decepticon activity. Optimus rallies the Autobots, and they move out to fight the Decepticons. Ratchet, Wheeljack and Bumblebee are left behind to guard the base.

The Autobots are quickly defeated by the Decepticons, thanks mostly to Megatron’s super-powered Fusion Cannon. As Spike watches the Autobots get taken prisoner, Bumblebee shows up to help. Together, they go back and deliver the bad news to Wheeljack and Ratchet. Without any other options, Wheeljack installs brain upgrades into the Dinobots, making them (slightly) more intelligent and easier to control. The Dinobots agree to save the Autobots and go into battle. The Dinobots completely waste all the Decepticons and send them running. Wheeljack rescues the captured Autobots, and out of gratitude, Optimus allows the Dinobots to remain active among their ranks.

Notes: Megatron mentions that Laserbeak accompanied Soundwave and Reflector to the Great Falls for investigation, but was never shown in the episode.

Errors: Megatron acts like hydro-electric power is something new and wondrous, despite the Decepticons having attacked a number of dams before-hand. When introducing the Dinobots, Ratchet talks in Wheeljack’s voice. The detail on Grimlock’s head continuously changes from smooth to rigid during the fight in the Ark. Why intentionally make the Dinobots stupid, savage, all-powerful beasts? Couldn’t Wheeljack have predicted what would happen? The Transformers get wet all the time, how come they got short-circuited this time when they took a bath?

Transformers featured (in rough order of appearance): Optimus Prime, Ratchet, Sideswipe, Ironhide, Wheeljack, Brawn, Jazz, Soundwave, Reflector, Hound, Huffer, Prowl, Bluestreak, Mirage, Megatron, Thundercracker, Starscream, Skywarp, Trailbreaker, Sunstreaker, Cliffjumper, Windcharger, Gears, Bumblebee, Grimlock (first appearance), Slag (first appearance), Sludge (first appearance), Ravage, Rumble.

Notable Others: Spike, Sparkplug, Teletran-1.

Review: Kid’s love dinosaurs. And while the idea of creating new Autobot warriors with the ferocious skill of terrible thunder-lizards seems like a good idea, Wheeljack goes about it all wrong. At the very least, he could’ve programmed them not to try and kill his friends. There are some bad logic errors (getting wet immobilizes the Autobots for no good reason) but the real killer here is the AWFUL animation. Toei has finally stopped trying. The coloring-errors were particularly bad, with Prime being completely blue for lengths at a time. I suspect Toei rented Nel Yomtov from Marvel to color this episode. Well, despite some ugliness, the Dinobots are fan-favorites and this episode does a good job showing-off their raw power.

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“Fire on the Mountain”

US Airdate: 12-22-84
Japan Airdate: 10-3-86
Japan Title: “Secret of the Incas”
Animation: Toei Studio

Synopsis: In an ancient Incan temple in Peru, Megatron uncovers the Crystal of Power; a large gem capable of controlling a fountain of destructive energy pouring out of the Earth like a geyser. Starscream and Thundercracker loot a steel plant for materials to build a cannon to control the Crystal and its energy. The Autobots find out when they run into the jets at the steel mill, and send Wheeljack and Sideswipe to dig Skyfire out of his icy tomb in the North Pole. Free again, Skyfire takes Windcharger and Brawn to Peru to keep the Decepticons busy. After a skirmish, the Autobots are defeated and forced to retreat.

The Autobots return with reinforcements and split up. Skyfire tries to sneak into the Temple to destroy the cannon, but is captured by Starscream and Thundercracker. Bumblebee and Spike are shown a secret entrance into the heart of the temple by a local Peruvian girl. They infiltrate the temple and find the deactivated Skyfire. Spike works to repair Skyfire’s damaged circuits while Bumblebee fends off the attacks of Ravage.

Outside, Megatron is blowing away all the Autobots with his new cannon. The Autobots are barely holding their own until the repaired Skyfire emerges from the Temple with Bumblebee and Spike. The Autobots swarm the top of the temple from all sides and Optimus hurls Megatron from the roof. The cannon is destroyed and the Decepticons retreat. The Autobots seal-off the energy fountain with a more reliable device built by Wheeljack. Spike and Bumblebee head back to the local village with the Peruvian girl, who wants to introduce Bumblebee to her brother’s convertible, “Juanita”. Bumblebee gets cartoonishly jittery at the thought of meeting a “topless” sportscar.

Notes: Skyfire was buried in ice in “Fire in the Sky”. Though possibly just a coincidence, the use of a green crystal to harness heat-energy from within the Earth was previously seen in “Fire in the Sky”. This episode marks the first time Teletran-1’s surveillance satellites is referred to as a “Skyspy”.

Errors: So the Autobots have no plans to free Skyfire from his frozen grave until they need him in battle? Pardon the pun, but that’s really cold. And five seconds after they thaw him out they tell him to get to work. Jerks.

Transformers featured (in rough order of appearance): Thundercracker, Starscream, Trailbreaker, Brawn, Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Soundwave, Skywarp, Reflector, Megatron, Ironhide, Laserbeak, Sideswipe, Wheeljack, Skyfire, Windcharger, Ratchet, Gears, Cliffjumper, Bluestreak, Ravage, Jazz, Sunstreaker.

Notable Others: Spike, Teletran-1, Peruvian Girl (first and only appearance).

Review: I hope you like plots about Megatron creating giant ray guns to destroy the Autobots, because you’re gonna see plenty of em as the series moves along. The concept of crystals harnessing power from the Earth’s core is badly recycled from “Fire in the Sky”; the least they could’ve done is make a reference back to that plot device. Digging Skyfire out of the ice makes you wonder why they even bothered with that tear-jerking “eulogy” from two episodes ago. Apparently, he wasn’t buried that deep and getting him out wasn’t particularly difficult. Maybe the Autobots were just cold? The Peruvian girl was such a text book “helpless female” she wasn’t even worthy of a name, despite being an essential element of the Autobots victory. The fights aren’t very exciting, either, though Windcharger spits up a glob of yellow fluid when shot by Starscream. Robo-bleeding is always fun to watch. All in all, the writers still aren’t trying very hard with the evil schemes, though at least this episode maintained a little continuity.

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“War of the Dinobots”

US Airdate: 11-24-84
Japan Airdate: 8-24-85
Japan Title: “The Mysterious Giant Meteorite”
Animation: Toei Studio

Synopsis: From an observatory, Chip discovers a strange meteor heading for Earth and alerts the Autobots to its presence. After it crashes to Earth, the Autobots investigate the meteorite and discover its internal energies are dangerously unstable. Optimus takes a fragment back to base for Wheeljack to study and leaves the Dinobots, Grimlock, Slag and Sludge, to keep guard over the meteorite. On their way back, Wheeljack asks Chip to help him and Ratchet come up with a pair of new Dinobots. At Decepticon headquarters, Megatron is lamenting over his previous defeat at the hands of the Dinobots, and sends Soundwave out to learn their weaknesses.

Soundwave reads their minds and discovers that Grimlock craves leadership, Slag is obsessed with fighting and Sludge is an imbecile. Playing on these weaknesses, Megatron approaches the Dinobots and convinces Grimlock that he should overthrow Optimus Prime as leader of the Autobots. Grimlock sides with Megatron and allows him to steal the meteorite to use as a source for Energon cubes.

Back at Autobot headquarters, Wheeljack’s meteorite fragment explodes due to the instability and he deduces that the rest of the meteorite should explode fairly soon. Optimus Prime heads out to transport the meteorite to a safe location but is ambushed by the renegade Dinobots. The Autobots complete their new Dinobots, Snarl and Swoop, and after a test to see how tough they are, send them out to help Optimus with the meteorite.

Megatron is busy sucking energy out of the meteorite but the Energon cubes appear to be unstable and explode. Grimlock takes Optimus back to Megatron as a prisoner but refuses to execute him. Snarl and Swoop soon show up and throw-down with the original Dinobots. The fight drags on as the meteorite grows more unstable. Grimlock lands next to it as it reaches its zenith and Optimus pushes him out of the way just as the meteorite explodes. Grimlock realizes that Optimus’ selflessness makes him the proper leader and attacks Megatron for tricking him. The Decepticons retreat and Grimlock asks Optimus to forgive him for his betrayal. Optimus shakes his hand and the Autobots head back to base.

Notes: Megatron was previously defeated by Grimlock, Slag and Sludge in “S.O.S. Dinobots”.

Errors: Right after Optimus tells all the Autobots to be careful around the dangerously unstable meteorite, he blasts it with his gun to remove a fragment. Was he not paying attention? Sludge has a conversation with himself using Slag’s voice as well as his own. The meteorite explosion didn’t seem all that hazardous, as Optimus and Grimlock were standing only a few feet from it when it blew-up and weren’t injured what-so-ever.

Transformers featured (in rough order of appearance): Ironhide, Wheeljack, Hound, Optimus Prime, Ratchet, Grimlock, Slag, Sludge, Megatron, Thundercracker, Soundwave, Starscream, Reflector, Rumble, Mirage, Skywarp, Prowl, Gears, Huffer, Brawn, Trailbreaker, Sideswipe, Bluestreak, Snarl (first appearance), Swoop (first appearance).

Notable Others: Chips Chase, Spike, Sparkplug.

Review: An okay episode if you like Dinobots. The threat of the exploding meteorite seemed like a waste of time, especially considering the explosion didn’t hurt anybody who was standing right next to it. Prime is certainly quick to forgive the Dinobots for kicking the crap out of him, too. The fight between the Dinobots, the real attraction of the episode, was pretty good. Got to see Grimlock rip a chunk of metal out of Snarl, anyway. Overall, though, a pretty lackluster episode that just served to introduce more toys.

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“The Ultimate Doom, Part 1”

US Airdate: 11-3-84
Japan Airdate: 11-7-86
Japan Title: “Day of Destruction, Part 1”
Animation: Toei Studio

Synopsis: Starscream, Skywarp and Thundercracker attack a Maharaja’s solar energy plant in India and the Autobots respond by rallying a large number of troops, leaving their base largely unguarded. At Decepticon headquarters, Megatron has joined forces with a half-man/half-machine mad scientist named Dr. Arkeville, who needs a guinea pig for his evil scheme. While the Autobot base is under-manned, Soundwave and his Cassettes kidnap Sparkplug. With their true mission a success, Starscream and the other Seekers retreat from the solar energy plant, as it was all just a diversion.

Meanwhile, Dr, Arkeville installs his “hypno-chip” into Sparkplug, reducing him to a mindless slave of the Decepticons’ whims. At the same time, Megatron is finishing up plans to create a massive spacebridge to Earth in order to transport a secret cargo. Optimus rallies the Autobots and they proceed to attack the underwater Decepticon base. While the others engage in battle, Brawn, Cliffjumper and Windcharger sneak in and rescue Sparkplug. The Autobots retreat with their rescued comrade, though Megatron and Dr. Arkeville don’t seem too concerned.

Back at Autobot HQ, Sparkplug is acting strangely, “repairing” all the Autobots. Before they can figure out what’s wrong, Megatron attacks without warning. The Autobots attempt to fight back but their weapons malfunction. During the fight, Spike notices Sparkplug’s wrench next to a disabled Teletran-1 and puts two and two together. Before the Decepticons can administer the final blow, Spike instructs Teletran to hose them down with a fire-retardant foam which damages their circuitry. The Decepticons, along with Sparkplug, retreat.

Later, Megatron reveals his full plan to Dr. Arkevill; he intends to use a massive spacebridge to bring Cybertron into Earth’s orbit and harvest the resulting chaotic energies caused by Cybertron’s gravitational pull. Megatron uses Arkevill’s hypno-chips to gather an army of slaves to build the spacebridge device, which the Autobots discover using one of Teletran’s Skyspies. The Autobots show up to stop the Decepticons, but most of their forces are subdued by an army of mind-controlled slaves. Sparkplug and Thundercracker activate the first two spacebridge pylons, as Megatron and Optimus do battle next to the third and final one. Megatron tells Optimus to flip the switch himself, because if he doesn’t, Cybertron will be destroyed. Optimus, fearing for the lives of all the Transformers on his home planet, flips the switch and Cybertron materializes in Earth’s orbit. Optimus laments that by saving Cybertron he may have doomed the Earth.

Notes: The Decepticon Headquarters is apparently not too deep underwater, with Sparkplug able to survive the undersea pressures. This is not an error, as Carly would scuba-dive down to the base in “The Immobilizer”. As seen in orbit, Cybertron is a good deal smaller than Earth.

Production Notes: In Japan, all three parts of “The Ultimate Doom” were shown back-to-back as the series finale. Despite continuity-disruption, this was done to give the series a grander send-off. Appropriate, if you consider America’s finale episode, “B.O.T.”.

Errors: When first attacking the Maharaja’s energy plant, Thundercracker talks in Skywarp’s voice. Despite Megatron not being alarmed what-so-ever, and foreshadowing it with his exposition, AND being in the middle of their own base, Starscream still mistakes the Optimus drone for the real thing and tells the Seekers to “Prepare to attack”. Shouldn’t Earth’s gravity hurt Cybertron just as much as Cybertron’s gravity hurts Earth?

Transformers featured (in rough order of appearance): Starscream, Skywarp, Thundercracker, Optimus Prime, Jazz, Wheeljack, Sunstreaker, Megatron, Soundwave, Rumble, Ratchet, Bumblebee, Sideswipe, Ironhide, Ravage, Laserbeak, Hound, Prowl, Shockwave, Cliffjumper, Windcharger, Brawn, Gears, Trailbreaker, Huffer.

Notable Others: Dr. Arkevill (first appearance), Sparkplug, Spike, Teletran-1.

Review: Despite some terrible physics in regards to Cybertron entering Earth orbit, the Ultimate Doom trilogy is a rather entertaining miniseries among the lackluster first season episodes. Spike being at odds with his mind-controlled father is a good subplot, though Sparkplug’s melodramatic “When next we meet…” bit almost ruins it. Optimus’ line to Megatron “As the Earthling’s would say; fat chance, fat-head!” is one of the stupidest things he’s ever said. Thankfully, he only does the “As the Earthlings would say-“ shtick a couple more times in the series. Regardless of that, his moral dilemma at the end of the episode is a pretty strong character moment, both showcasing Prime’s decision-making capabilities and Megatron’s evil manipulation. Prime has to choose between the lives of the people on his home world or the lives of the people on Earth. Pretty nicely done.

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“The Ultimate Doom, Part 2”

US Airdate: 11-10-17
Japan Airdate: 11-7-86
Japan Title: “Day of Destruction, Part 2”
Animation: Toei Studio

Synopsis: Cybertron’s orbital gravity causes natural disasters all over the planet, including earthquakes and tidal waves. The Decepticons, using Soundwave’s sonic disrupter waves, force the Autobots to retreat. However, the sonic disrupter waves short out the hypno-chips in the human slaves. The Decepticons return to base with their only remaining slave, Sparkplug, and send Laserbeak to gather more humans.

While retreating, Spike and Bumblebee fall into a deep crevice created by a sudden earthquake. The Autobots rescue the pair and return to the Ark. The Decepticons begin producing Energon cubes from the geological chaos and send Skywarp and Sparkplug to deliver the first load to Cybertron. Dr. Arkevill protests, not wanting his slaves to leave the planet, but Megatron informs him that his hypno-chip control mainframe has been duplicated on Cybertron, slimming-down the mad scientist’s usefulness.

Back at the Ark, The Autobots deploy the reluctant Dinobots to help fight the most devastating natural disasters around the world, including a massive tidal wave. Optimus tries to cheer up the depressed Spike, promising to rescue Sparkplug. Suddenly, the volcano the Ark is situated in becomes active and erupts. Most of the Autobots make it out safely, with Skyfire rescuing those caught in the eruption. Ironhide races into the core of the Volcano and smothers the lava pit in a rockslide. The Autobots regroup and learn that Sparkplug has been taken to Cybertron. Spike demands to accompany the rescue party, much to Optimus’ refusal. Wheeljack vouches for Spike, and along with Skyfire, Trailbreaker, Brawn and Bumblebee, head to Cybertron. After landing, Brawn, Bumblebee and Spike fall into a trap and become separated from the rest of the group. They stumble upon the hypno-chip mainframe and discover how Megatron has been controlling the slaves. Sparkplug shows up and Spike tries to reason with him. Sparkplug fights the hypno-chip controlling his brain, only to lose and sounds the intruder alert.

Notes: When not in action, the Dinobots are kept in a closet (no wonder they’re always so pissed). Though never named in the show-itself, in the Marvel Comics the volcano was referred to as Mount St. Hilary.

Errors: How exactly did the Autobots discover Sparkplug was taken to Cybertron? Why would a ventilation shaft on Cybertron be big enough to fit an entire car, especially in a prison pit?

Transformers featured (in rough order of appearance): Ironhide, Jazz, Wheeljack, Prowl, Optimus Prime, Megatron, Thundercracker, Starscream, Soundwave, Skywarp, Bumblebee, Ravage, Trailbreaker, Rumble, Sunstreaker, Hound, Windcharger, Brawn, Laserbeak, Bluestreak, Ratchet, Grimlock, Slag, Sludge, Snarl, Swoop, Sideswipe, Skyfire, Huffer, Trailbreaker.

Notable Others: Sparkplug, Spike, Dr. Arkeville.

Review: Not a bad second installment, though like the middle section of “More than Meets the Eye”, it doesn’t feel like much happens. The Dinobots fighting the forces of nature is one of the more entertaining segments, especially if you like the Dinobots. Mount St. Hilary erupting felt like pure filler, as the problem was solved in a matter of seconds and practically no damage was done to the Ark-itself. Optimus talking to Spike in a “fatherly” sort of way about Sparkplug is one of the better moments between the two characters; a shame it was cut short by that stupid volcano eruption. In one of my favorite parts, Laserbeak goes out and starts kidnapping people at random to use as slaves. A good middle installment, save for a moment of pure filler.

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“The Ultimate Doom, Part 3”

US Airdate: 11-17-84
Japan Airdate: 11-7-86
Japan Title: “Day of Destruction, Part 3”
Animation: Toei Studio

Synopsis: Shockwave, Soundwave and a squad of Seekers show up to capture Spike and the Autobots. With no other option, the Autobots leave Sparkplug behind and retreat. After a chase, they take cover in Wheeljack’s workshop. Using information Bumblebee stole from the hypno-chip mainframe, Wheeljack begins work on a means to nullify the mind-controlling effects.

On Earth, Megatron is using all his human slaves to construct a device to collect the energy of a massive tidal wave. Dr. Arkevill complains that all the slaves will be drowned in the tidal wave, but Megatron does not seem to care. The Autobots arrive, riding the tidal wave, but cannot prevent Megatron from collecting the massive quantity of energy it creates. Megatron escapes on a starship with his energy, leaving Dr. Arkevill behind to die. Starscream rescues Arkevill and flies off with him as the Autobots get to work rescuing all the slaves.

On Cybertron, Wheeljack has perfected a device to counter the hypno-chip and the Autobots make a second attempt at rescuing Sparkplug. After invading Shockwave’s base, the device works and Sparkplug is reunited with Spike. A brief skirmish with Shockwave follows, but the Autobots escape. Back on Earth, Optimus has tracked Megatron and the other Decepticons to an island where they’re loading the last of their Energon into his starship. Mirage turns invisible and takes control of the slaves, informing them to leave the ship.

With the slaves safely out of the way, the Autobots attack. However, they are out-gunned and the Decepticons begin to overwhelm them. Skyfire soon shows up and Wheeljack uses his device to free all the slaves. The reinforcements prove too much for Megatron, and he attempts to escape back to Cybertron with his starship full of Energon. Cybertron’s ill-effects on Earth reach their zenith, threatening to tear the planet to pieces and sending a massive tidal wave toward the island. The Autobots focus all their firepower on Megatron’s starship, loaded to the brim with Energon, causing it to explode. The force of the explosion sends Cybertron out of Earth’s atmosphere. The tidal wave falls apart before it reaches the island and the Earth is saved. Spike celebrates the apparent death of Megatron, though Optimus is not so sure. Out in space, an injured Megatron swears vengeance and flies back to base.

Notes: Wheeljack’s workshop on Cybertron first appeared in “Divide and Conquer”.

Errors: Reflector talks to Megatron in his usual 3 voices at once, though there was only 1 Reflector unit present. On the island, Megatron asks where Dr. Arkevill is, even though he had left Dr. Arkevill to die in a tidal wave a few minutes earlier. How the HELL did Megatron’s exploding ship knock Cybertron out of Earth’s orbit and NOT kill him in the process?

Transformers featured (in rough order of appearance): Bumblebee, Brawn, Shockwave, Soundwave, Skywarp, Wheeljack, Trailbreaker, Skyfire, Optimus Prime, Ratchet, Ironhide, Bluestreak, Prowl, Rumble, Megatron, Reflector, Starscream, Jazz, Cliffjumper, Mirage.

Notable Others: Spike, Sparkplug, Dr. Arkevill.

Review: Ach. A good miniseries utterly killed by a completely nonsensical, sloppy ending. So the explosion pushes an entire planet out of orbit, but doesn’t kill Megatron? That’s just terrible. You could tell the writers ran out of time and thought that up on the spot. Spike’s reunion with Sparkplug was well done and not nearly as mushy as it could’ve been. There’s a great scene where Dr. Arkevill complains that all the slaves will drown in the tidal wave, to which Megatron replies “I thought humans LIKED to play in the ocean?” One of his better lines. The episode would’ve been fine if it wasn’t for that awful ending.

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“Countdown to Extinction”

US Airdate: 12-1-84
Japan Airdate: 8-31-85
Japan Title: “Operation: Obliterate Earth”
Animation: Toei Studio

Synopsis: Following Megatron’s latest scheme which resulted in planet-wide destruction, the Autobots are busy restoring cities around the world. The Decepticons are busy, too, repairing their headquarters after all the damage it sustained. Rumble and Frenzy are being picked on by Thundercracker and Skywarp, resulting in a fight until Megatron shows up, alive, and organizes his troops. Laserbeak then shows up with information he had gathered while spying on Starscream. Apparently, Starscream has gone with Dr. Arkevill back to his secret lab to harness a new power-source. The Decepticons head out to intercept him.

At Arkevill’s secret lab, Starscream happens upon the exponential-generator, a machine that can create unequalled amounts of power. Starscream sets a timer on it, determined to have it build energy until it becomes unstable and destroys the Earth. From the safety of Cybertron, Starscream intends to collect the energy released. Dr. Arkevill does not like the idea of having his planet destroyed, so Starscream takes him back to Cybertron as a prisoner.

As soon as Ratchet finishes repairing Teletran-1, the Autobots are alerted to the Decepticons activity. The Autobots do battle with the Decepticons and are lead into the aptly named “Valley of No Return” where they sink into quicksand. Megatron leaves Laserbeak behind to make sure the Autobots are destroyed. On Cybertron, Starscream (still under the impression that Megatron is dead) seizes command from Shockwave and instructs him to set-up energy collectors. Shockwave reluctantly agrees. Dr. Arkeville tries to sabotage the energy collectors but is severely injured by the computer’s security device.

On Earth, Ironhide uses his liquid nitrogen to free the Autobots from the quicksand and Laserbeak is captured. Listening to Laserbeak’s recordings, the Autobots discover the Decepticons plot and go to meet them at Arkevill’s laboratory. The Autobots and Decepticons battle until Megatron is interrupted by a message from Shockwave, warning him of Earth’s immanent destruction. Megatron and Optimus work together, removing the unstable generator from its housing. Back on Cybertron, Starscream has repaired Dr. Arkevill, though the damage was so extensive, most of Arkeville’s body has been replaced with cybernetic parts. Starscream wonders why the Earth hasn’t exploded yet, and Arkevill coaxes him into going to see for himself.

At Arkeville’s lab, the generator reaches critical mass and Megatron transforms to gun-mode. Optimus loads the generator into Megatron and fires it out into space, where it explodes near Starscream. Starscream crashes in front of a very angry Megatron, who drags him back to base for punishment.

Notes: Dr. Arkevill was taken prisoner by Starscream, Teletran-1 was damaged and Megatron went missing during “The Ultimate Doom” miniseries. Although Dr. Arkevill does not show up in the cartoon ever again, he does make a reappearance in the Binaltech storyline written by Hirofumi Ichikawa and released exclusively in Japan. Cybertron appears to still be relatively close to Earth following the events of “The Ultimate Doom”.

Production Notes: In Japan, this episode was aired well-before “The Ultimate Doom”, as that 3-parter was used to serve as a series finale instead.

Errors: Dr, Arkevill complains that Starscream has turned him into “a mechanical freak”. He was already a mechanical freak.

Transformers featured (in rough order of appearance): Wheeljack, Grimlock, Sludge, Optimus Prime, Ratchet, Ironhide, Brawn, Gears, Huffer, Hound, Skywarp, Rumble, Thundercracker, Soundwave, Frenzy (first appearance), Megatron, Laserbeak, Cliffjumper, Starscream, Prowl, Bumblebee, Windcharger, Jazz, Sideswipe, Reflector, Mirage.

Notable Others: Teletran-1, Dr. Arkevill.

Review: A good epilogue to “The Ultimate Doom”, it’s nice to see some actual fall-out from one of Megatron’s devious schemes. A shame the “rebuilding Earth” plot was scrapped shortly into the episode. While Starscream’s plan to destroy the Earth was nothing special, we did get to see Dr. Arkevill try to redeem himself in possibly the most characterization he ever receives. Seeing Optimus firing Megatron in gun-mode was a nice visual, too. Overall, it’s always nice to have a little continuity between episodes that don’t feature a “Part-X” in the title.

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“A Plague of Insecticons”

US Airdate: 12-29-84
Japan Airdate: 10-24-86
Japan Title: “Mystery of the Insectrons”
Animation: Toei Studio

Synopsis: In a part of Bali known as “Demon Swamp”, a group of farmers are attacked by 3 giant robot insects; Shrapnel, Bombshell and Kickback. The Insects follow them back to their farm and devour their crops. The farmers radio for help and Teletran-1 picks up their distress signal. Skyfire takes a group of Autobots to investigate. Meanwhile, Laserbeak records their actions and delivers the information to Megatron. Megatron is intrigued and goes to investigate with a group of Decepticons.

The Autobots arrive and engage the Insects in battle but are overwhelmed. Optimus and the rest of the Autobots are on their way to back them up, but are forced to take a detour thanks to a village parade. Megatron investigates Demon Swamp and finds an escape-pod fired from their starship, the Nemesis, when it crash-landed on Earth 4 million years ago. Thundercracker deduces that the idento-computers of the Decepticons on board scanned local insect life which resulted in their becoming Insecticons.

While Skyfire and the other Autobots are being pounded, the Insecticons use a special attack which creates a legion of mindless clones. To make matters worse, Megatron arrives and forms an alliance with the Insecticons. Before they can finish-off the Autobots, Optimus Prime arrives with reinforcements and chases the Decepticons away. The Autobots give chase but are side-tracked by an Insecticon attack. Meanwhile, Megatron, the Decepticons and the Insecticon Clones raid a local oil refinery for Energon.

The Autobots defeat the Insecticons and arrive at the refinery. The battle goes in their favor until Shrapnel breaks out his ultimate attack, drawing lightning from the sky and blasting the Autobots with it. The Insecticons nearly win until Spike realizes the Autobots can’t be hurt when they transform into vehicle-mode and are grounded by their tires. The Autobots defeat the Decepticons, as the Insecticons question their allegiance. Deciding they’re best on their own, the Insecticons devour all of Megatron’s Energon cubes. Enraged, Megatron orders the Decepticons to destroy the Insecticons and chase them off into the sky. The Autobots watch in amusement, though they doubt the Decepticons and Insecticons will remain enemies for long.

Notes: The Insecticon escape-pod was launched from the Nemesis at some point during the beginning of “More than Meets the Eye part 1”. Thundercracker mentions “idento-computers”, a concept similar to the life form scanners used in Beast Wars. Shrapnel does not know Megatron, leader of the Decepticons for over 9 million years. It is possible that the Insecticons were blank protoforms (a key concept used during Beast Wars) when launched from the Nemesis. Spike mentions that he is not old-enough to drive. In America, the oldest you can be without being eligible for a driver’s license is 15, thus placing Spike’s age there-abouts.

Errors: Rubber tires may ground your car from regular lightning bolts coming out of the sky, but not a blast of electricity specifically aimed at you. Kickback tells a distraught farmer that there is no spray that can defeat the Insecticons, yet robot bug-spray conveniently shows up in “Quest for Survival”. Laserbeak was captured by the Autobots in “Countdown to Extinction” but appears free as a bird in this episode.

Transformers featured (in rough order of appearance): Shrapnel (first appearance), Bombshell (first appearance), Kickback (first appearance), Brawn, Windcharger, Bumblebee, Skyfire, Laserbeak, Megatron, Soundwave, Thundercracker, Ravage, Optimus Prime, Sideswipe, Sunstreaker, Ironhide, Wheeljack, Trailbreaker, Rumble, Reflector.

Notable Others: Sparkplug, Spike, Teletran-1.

Review: Finally, some new Decepticons! They were really out-numbered there, for a while. The Insecticons have always been personal favorite characters of mine, mostly because they were free-agents, only working for Megatron when he could pay them with Energon. They were almost always off doing their own thing. Their plethora of outrageously powerful special attacks as well as interesting character quirks made them stand out among the typically bland characters. The story is basically, “Look, new toys!” but the episode stands out thanks to some dynamic animation from Toei (Shrapnel’s lightning attack has a rather cool flare to it).

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“The Heavy Metal War”

US Airdate: 12-15-84
Japan Airdate: 9-7-85
Japan Title: “The Laws of Seibertron”
Animation: Toei Studio

Synopsis: At a construction site, a group of 6 Decepticon construction vehicles, the Constructicons, steal numerous energy disk devices. At the Decepticons temporary base of operations, Megatron welcomes back his new recruits; Scrapper, Hook, Langhaul, Scavenger, Bonecrusher and Mixmaster. Using the materials they stole, the Constructicons build a device to harness the special powers of every Decepticon by processing their power chip rectifiers. Megatron intends to challenge Optimus Prime to a battle of honor, despite the fact that, according to Cybertron law, he is supposed to enter the battle without aid. Megatron uses the machine to infuse himself with all the Decepticons powers and heads off to the Ark.

Megatron arrives at the Ark and challenges Optimus to an ancient battle between faction leaders; the loser and his troops being forced into exile in deep space. Optimus agrees, unaware of Megatron’s ruse. Meanwhile, the Constructicons tunnel beneath the Ark, intending to destroy Teletran-1 before it can reveal Megatron’s secret.

Optimus and Megatron meet in battle, with all the Autobots and Decepticons as the audience. With all the Decepticons super powers at his command, Megatron thoroughly trashes Optimus Prime. Defeated, Optimus returns to base with the other Autobots, reluctantly agreeing to their lawful exile. Back at the Ark, the Constructicons approach Teletran-1 but are broadsided by the Dinobots. They engage the Dinobots in battle but lose. To even the odds, the Constructicons merge into their combined form, Devastator.

The Autobots return to base but can’t help the Dinobots due to the laws of Cybertron. Inside, Teletran-1 inspects Optimus’ wounds and informs him of Megatron’s trickery. The deal now null and void, the Autobots rush to the Dinobots aid. Hound projects a hologram of a massive Autobot, confusing Devastator long enough for Optimus to fire a shot that breaks him back into the individual Constructicons. The Autobots force the Decepticons back and send them tumbling into a crevice filled with hot lava. Optimus faces Megatron one-on-one and defeats him, sending him into the lava as well. Spike asks Optimus if Megatron is gone forever, but Optimus remains uncertain. Deep in the crevice, Megatron rises from the Lava.

Notes: This episode marks the first and only time Thundercracker’s sonic boom attack was ever used in the cartoon, and it was used by Megatron, no less. Soundwave strokes Ravage’s head like a he was a pet kitty, though in the Japanese dub, all the Decepticon Cassettes refer to Soundwave as their “big brother”.

Production Notes: The original Production version of this episode is riddled with numerous animation errors which betray the otherwise beautiful animation-quality. The Broadcast version of the episode repaired a large number of these animation errors, however, Rhino Home Video chose to use the Production version of the episode for the DVD release.

Errors: Megatron says that he built the Constructicons in the temporary base, though this contradicts their origins as seen in “The Secret of Omega Supreme” and “Five Faces of Darkness part 4”. It’s possible that he just rebuilt them in the cavern. It took Megatron 9 million years to use the “ancient law of Cybertron” loophole against Optimus? Devastator’s head-design changes back and forth throughout the last fight scene, going from individual eyes to a visor and back again. Teletran-1, when identifying the various Decepticons Megatron took powers from, refers to Rumble as a “red robot”, despite Rumble being blue/purple in the English version of the cartoon. Rumble is also misspelled as “Runble” on the computer screen. In that same sequence, Megatron is referred to as “Thundercracker”.

Transformers featured (in rough order of appearance): Scrapper (first appearance), Hook (first appearance), Bonecrusher (first appearance), Longhaul (first appearance), Scavenger (first appearance), Mixmaster (first appearance), Megatron, Starscream, Soundwave, Skywarp, Thundercracker, Optimus Prime, Wheeljack, Bumblebee, Ratchet, Ironhide, Cliffjumper, Rumble, Reflector, Hound, Mirage, Trailbreaker, Bluestreak, Brawn, Sunstreaker, Prowl, Jazz, Sideswipe, Ravage, Laserbeak, Huffer, Grimlock, Slag, Sludge, Snarl, Swoop, Devastator (first appearance).

Notable Others: Sparkplug, Spike, Chip Chase, Teletran-1.

Review: A pretty stupid story, redeemed only by some of the best animation of the first season (if you’re watching the Broadcast version, otherwise, I’m very sorry). Indeed, the fight scene between the super powered Megatron and the unwitting Optimus is one of the best bouts between the two characters in the series. While Starscream’s narration may seem a bit interruptive, it does serve to educate the audience as to which character had what power, as they were rarely used up to that point. The first appearance of Devastator is a welcomed site, as the visuals for the combining robots are impressive. Devastator doesn’t really do much before getting defeated, though. Overall, it’s a good episode if you like fighting and eye-candy, otherwise, the plot is ridiculous and the conclusion is fairly sloppy at best.

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| Transformers Episode Guide | Season Two, Part 1 |

 
 
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